SXSW | 03.18.10 | Austin, TX - Day 2

Words by: Kayceman | Images by: Scott Dudelson & Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.18.10 :: Thursday :: Austin, TX

Kayceman's Top 3

#3 - Broken Social Scene

Band of Horses at Stubb's
03.18.10 by Dudelson
If we let them, Broken Social Scene will heal us. One of the most innovative and influential indie rock bands of our time, they've pulled off the very difficult trick of being super-indie-hipster chic but so totally void of pretense or posturing that the music always feels real, genuine and from a deep place. When they tell us to fight for joy or they crank out triumphant, celebratory music and tell us it's how our lives should sound, it works. This is the power of music. Melody, notes and words combined and organized in ways that illicit profound emotion, thoughts and even actions - these are the waters that BSS swim in. Though Feist performing at Stubb's on Thursday night was just a rumor (there's lots of rumors at SXSW - did you hear Jay-Z and Mötley Crüe are gonna do surprise sets?) it didn't matter. Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Apostle of Hustle, Jason Collett and the other dozen or so musicians (I believe the stage maxed out at 14 people) put on a life-affirming set of loose jams and soaring harmonies. New track "World Sick" from the forthcoming Forgiveness Rock Record (due May 4 on Arts & Crafts) featured one of the most infectious bass lines at SXSW and old standouts "Fire Eye'd Boy" and "7/4 (Shoreline)" wrapped us tight in a sheet of distorted guitars and warm horns.

#2 - Band of Horses

Another group with a new album coming soon (Infinite Arms out May 17 on Columbia), Band of Horses also toil in emotion's murky waters. Ben Bridwell and his Horses aren't afraid to get their hands dirty digging through dark soil, but like Broken Social Scene, there's resolution and joy in the end. Starting their set at Stubb's with "Is There A Ghost" and "Great Salt Lake," it didn't take long for the giant guitars and powerful vocals to capture the sprawling crowd's attention. And when the girl next to me grabbed her boyfriend's arm and said, "I'm sooo excited. I love this band," it was clear this music speaks to people. Like art in general, it's a difficult thing to quantify or explain. Why does a certain selection of notes or set of words make us feel what it does? What is it about certain songs that allow them to touch us so deeply? Hard to say, but when you feel it, there's no mistaking it. Band of Horses staples "The Funeral," "No One's Gonna Love You" and "Marry Song" were coupled with a Yo La Tengo cover and two new songs. The first new track was a mid-tempo burner pulled tight with emotion and the second was a foot-stomping country rock number with a heavy dose of organ; both show great promise for the upcoming album. More than even the sweet material Bridwell is coming up with, what makes Band of Horses so great right now is that they are a real band and they're finding their power. The lineup went through a number of changes before arriving at this unit and every time I've seen this band over the past year or two they've gotten better and better.

#1 - Kayceman's Treehouse Party

Paz Lenchantin - Entrance Band
03.18.10 by Kayceman
Kayceman's Treehouse Party was really fun. Perched up on a deck framed against the Austin skyline and packed with some of my favorite bands, it was an honor to have my name associated with such talent. Showing up to my own party just a little late due to a work commitments, I, unfortunately, missed Any Day Parade and The Fresh & Onlys, but when The Moondoggies started all worries washed away. Like an 18-wheeler headed down a steep slope, The Moondoggies' three-part harmonies, tent revival energy, and gospel-baked roots rock was impossible to deny. If you dig The Band and The Byrds and don't know this Seattle group then you have to check out their stunning 2008 debut Don't Be a Stranger (JamBase review).

Following The Moondoggies was perhaps my favorite set of the day: The Entrance Band. Guitarist/vocalist/leader Guy Blakeslee is a psychedelic guitar shredder. Shirt off and standing on speakers, he played lefty with a right-handed guitar strung upside down a la Hendrix, and this is one follower Jimi would surely approve of. As difficult as it was to steal any of Blakeslee's thunder, bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) stole the show. Sexier than all hell in her high heels and tight jeans, she was rolling on the stage, playing over her head and rubbing against the speakers. But none of it would have mattered if she weren't such an over-the-top monster bassist. Blakeslee and Paz are a remarkable team, and with drummer Derek James they dig deep into the psych-rock woods - feeling, living every note and squeezing the juice from every moment of their glorious journey.

Entrance Band was a hard act to follow, but Red Cortez fears no stage. Built around gifted frontman Harley Prechtel-Cortez, there's an early U2 vibe that hints at what's possible for this band, and based on the new material we heard in Austin and with a new album produced by the legendary Ethan Johns coming soon, one gets the impression this band is just starting to hit their stride.

Big Light :: Kayceman's Treehouse
03.18.10 by Kayceman
The Mother Hips did what they do and burned the Treehouse down. One of the most consistently great live acts around, they don't disappoint. Playing to the largest crowd of the day, burly rockers like "Grizzly Bear" and "Third Floor Story," and the dirty hard funk-rock of "Magazine" were razor sharp but never too tight. Frontman Tim Bluhm and guitarist Greg Loiacono are a true dynamic duo, and this band is enjoying a true renaissance period right now that finds them better than at any point in their 20 year career.

It's clear Everest are on the rise. Touring with Neil Young has taught them how to flex their muscles, and when they lean into crunching guitar jams it hits hard. But they also show a delicate, acoustic side and bandleader Russell Pollard is shaping up to be a remarkable songwriter. The tracks from their upcoming sophomore album, On Approach (due April 20 on Vapor Records), indicate a band that's nowhere near their ceiling. It should be fun to watch them climb the mountain.

Hosting San Francisco local boys and JamBase darling Big Light was a real treat. Playing to a deck full of industry folks there to see them, BL did the job with four hard hitting power-pop nuggets of rock & roll. There were several conversations overheard about how this band is "really getting their shit together," and the interplay between drummer Bradly Bifulco and guitar stud Jeremy Korpas during "Heavy" was just awesome.

Closing down the festivities was Knoxville, TN's Royal Bangs. Pumping out woozy keyboards and inventive guitar lines, they were a jolt of energy that reinvigorated anyone who might have gotten a bit too much sun up at the Treehouse. Hitting pleasure zones like !!!, they've described their music as "easy shred computer jam," and even though they've trimmed from a five-piece to a trio there appears to be little if anything lost in transition.

Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 2 highlights...

Words by: Sarah Hagerman

Those Darlins :: 03.18.10 :: SXSW
I'd heard vaguely of Yacht going in, and honestly probably would have skipped them if it weren't for the urging of a buddy. Based on the name alone, I had assumed they were going to be more along the lines of some kind of ironic hipster "yacht rock," with boat shoes and Kenny Loggins-style falsettos. Oh how wrong I was. Although they certainly were dressed to the nines, this wasn't no champagne-sipping in the sunshine sail. They laid down a dirty, post-punk, disco ass-shake-a-thon at the Spaceland Day Party at Palm Door. Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans held court at the front of the stage as their band offered up lead-heavy beats and screaming punk aggression. They were the picture of cool as they strutted back and forth, working the crowd into a jumping mess with steely stares and sneers that said, "If you don't dance, someone's gonna get hurt." Evans would twist her mic cord around her body and fiercely pose by the pole in the center of the stage, with a vibe that couldn't help but remind me of Debbie Harry. I could see these cats going over well at Camp Bisco. If you dig !!! or Gossip, climb on board.

Fool's Gold

Heaving and buckling with the weight of sardine-packed jumping bodies, the narrow side porch of the Palm Door (which was serving as a makeshift second stage) threatened to give way during Fool's Gold's early evening set. This band puts on a tribal, tropical dance party that grabs your sweaty hand and drags you into a conga line. They really stretched out, too, moving between blasting sax funk and tight drumming with snappy ease, keeping those floorboards quaking under their brilliant shine.

The Entrance Band

The setting for the stacked lineup at Kayceman's Treehouse Party felt like an awesome little secret, set high above the rumble of 6th Street below. As the hot midday sun beat down on our heads at the upstairs patio at Cheers shot bar, Entrance Band melted our brains. Playing psychedelic scattershot guitar like Hendrix (he even busted out the behind-the-head move), frontman Guy Blakeslee had the rock star thing down to a science. Pure organic chemistry, as badass bassist Paz Lenchantin crushed the low end and drummer Derek James seemed hypnotized behind his wall of hair. Drawing out washes of feedback while bent over their instruments, Blakeslee and Lenchantin looked about ready to fold up and meld with the stage. They rose up, to end the set with a tremendous roar. Note to self: earplugs exist for a reason.

Those Darlins

Man Man :: 03.18.10 :: SXSW
"If you don't want a wild one/ Don't hang around with me" might as well be tattooed on these girls' forearms. Look out, fellas, you might well find yourself handcuffed to a bed with your wallet missing and your car long gone. Riot girl rockabilly queens-to-be, these gals are like the delinquent granddaughters of Wanda Jackson (guitarist Jessi Darlin's voice even had a similar high-pitched gritty wail). With songs about getting drunk and eating a whole chicken and having phone sex with prank callers, they aren't afraid to get raunchy and bloody and then wake up with questionable bruises. Nikki Darlin dropped her baritone ukulele towards the end of the set and stomped around the front of the stage at the Bungalow, spitting gulps from her pint of whiskey sky high. At one point, she balanced herself on some folks in the front row, and it looked like an older, bald gentleman got pretty well acquainted with her crotch for a minute. It was chaos by the end of their set, with Nikki and bassist Kelley Darlin wrestling, and Jessi strangling and tossing her guitar around, before all three dissolved into a pile, rolling and kicking in the center of the stage. This shit was totally badass, oozing confident in-your-face sexuality and dirty south pride. I want to rage with these gals, but I think things would get pretty damn messy.

Man Man

With Man Man, I don't know if I want to have whatever they are having, but I sure do love the contact high. This band brings out something positively primal in you, puts you in touch with some feral base elements growling in your blood, makes you want to howl at the moon. Let me put it this way – it was the first honest to god slam pit and stage push I'd seen at SXSW. If you were in the front for this show, you were part of the chaos. No standing back and taking notes or texting on your Blackberry here. Like a marching band on the elevator to hell, or a birthday party from your Jungian shadow, their stage set-up is always impressive, as they leap from brass to xylophone to noise makers. Frontman Honus Honus stalked around with a wild, possessed look in his eyes, contorting his face as he sang, wrapping himself in a hooded cloak and red Christmas lights one minute, donning a glittery dress the next. "You make me feel like a zombie!" he shrieked during "Big Trouble." There's a monster inside all of us, and you can always count on Man Man to drag it out from under the bed. It's pretty damn exciting, and a little bit scary.

Dead Confederate

Equal parts grungy and hypnotic, Dead Confederate gave us one final shot of adrenaline in our veins as we gathered the last pieces of the night. The enormous sound was all encompassing, gluing you to the pavement, so that all you could do was violently shake your head in its wake. Hardy Morris has a wail that reminded me a little bit of Perry Farrell, cutting through the dark fuzz of the band to soar over those of us still upright. It shot shivers straight through my bones. As 2:00 a.m. crept up, Morris said the band had two more songs. They slew one, and then halfway through their last song, the plug was pulled. It was an abrupt and jarring end, and it's unfortunate the Bungalow wouldn't have let them see it through an extra few minutes instead of unceremoniously sending us out into the night to dodge the wasted and the lost winding their way back towards beds or searching for that last, secret party pumping somewhere in the Austin night.

Continue reading for more pics of SXSW Day 2...

Images by: Scott Dudelson

Athlete at Billboard Bungalow Party
Bear In Heaven at Mohawk
Besnard Lakes at Emo's Annex
Broken Social Scene at Stubb's
Drive-By Truckers at Stubb's
Camper Van Beethoven at Encore
Cocoon at French Party
Jason Collett at Little Radio Party
Dead Sexy Inc. at French Party
Damion Suomi at Paste Party
Gringo Starr at Habana Calle
Local Natives at Emo's
Lovely Feathers at Emo's Annex
The Mother Hips at Encore
The Moondoggies at Kayceman's Treehouse Party
Oh Mercy at Emo's Annex
Quest For Fire at Habana Calle
Sara Haze at Billboard Bungalow Party
Sondre Lerche
The Bewitched Hands at French Party
The Walkmen
Vivian Girls at Club Deville
Surfer Blood at Club Deville

Click here for coverage of SXSW Day 1.

Check back tomorrow for more coverage of SXSW 2010...

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